by Kali Kardas
The 15th annual Northwest 10 Minute Play festival is showing for one more weekend this week in Eugene, Oregon, at the Oregon Contemporary Theatre. The festival (NW10) showcases eight plays that are about ten minutes long and showcase a wide range of genres, metaphors, jokes, and acting styles. It is a much-beloved event in the local theatre community because new actors, writers, and directors can have a medium to perform, and it brings together such a large cast and crew in a beautiful way.
All the pieces must be new works that have not been produced on another stage. The plays are selected after writers from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho submit their plays and are given consideration by a committee of writers and producers of the festival. This year audiences will see work by debut playwrights and a few familiar favorites.
Overall, the show is inspiring and fun to see. It will give you a new perspective. As an actor and director myself, I always feel encouraged by the mix of experience and skill working together to produce a great show and give growth opportunities. As the plays are short, and each piece is directed and rehearsed independently, it reduces many barriers for new actors and directors to try things out and make a commitment they may not otherwise be able to make. For that reason alone, it is a valuable event that is always worth supporting.
This year did not disappoint either. As with every show, the untested waters of new works and the variety of directors’ and players’ experiences often leave room for improvement. But the show has the heart and character the community has come to expect. The standout piece was the finale, a ten-minute play called A Blue Hydrangea by Eric Braman. Performed with brilliance by Alexander Holmes and James Huntley, the play is about a hydrangea flower reacting to one of its offshoots turning blue from pink and their fear of “The Great Carol” (the gardener) and how she will react. A clear metaphor for accepting our loved ones for who they truly are, the story told a beautiful arc in only ten minutes.
Several pieces centered around losing a loved one or strained relationships, while others dipped into the absurd. Two aliens discover Earth, an American man comforts a grieving French woman in a Cathedral while a priest hushes them, and a woman in chemotherapy receives a visit from a legendary Native American Chief. All made for a one-of-a-kind show that should not be missed.
An audience member at Northwest Ten must come to the show with some grace. New works and first-time directors sometimes make for some rough edges. The experience of the show should not be to judge the production but rather to bask in the enthusiasm of the hard-working company and to be delighted and surprised by the possibilities of what can be achieved in a short play.
The Northwest Ten festival can be seen for one more weekend, and you are looking for unique entertainment this weekend, head down to Oregon Contemporary Theatre and see this show!
Kali Kardas is a performer, writer, and fitness instructor. She is passionate about food, theatre, and body positivity! She also has an MBA in Sustainable Business from City University of Seattle and has ten years of marketing and communications experience. She lives in Eugene with her husband and three cats. See can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.